Stick to the facts, history cannot be rewritten — social activist

Peter John Jaban

KUCHING, Sept 16: Social activist Peter John Jaban believes that school history books must be written according to facts.

“History cannot be rewritten, but its lessons must be analysed through the lens of modern day Malaysia. All our children need to learn about the circumstances of the formation of their nation so that there can be proper respect and understanding for the position of the Borneo States within Malaysia,” he said in a statement.

He said Malaysia Day, as a historical event, was the day Malaysia came into being.

“This was a day of hope for the future for these partners and, regardless of what has happened since, that spirit of unity and possibility must be celebrated alongside all the progress and opportunity that Malaysia has represented over the last five decades.

“However, in a modern context, the celebration of Malaysia Day is especially relevant to the Borneo States, given that this was neglected for so many years and superseded by the celebration of Aug 31 — Malaya’s merdeka,” he opined.

Peter John said the recognition of Sept 16 has been a process of re-education for the whole of Malaysia and had brought forth the issues plaguing Sarawak and Sabah. Until recently, Sarawak and Sabah had been irrelevant to the federal government, except for their vast store of oil and gas resources .

“Of course, they (Putrajaya) must take responsibility for this. But equally, so must we. Our elected representatives have either remained silent or taken the opportunity to enrich themselves,” he said.

He, however, noted that Sarawak and Sabah were back on the national radar screen as lawmakers from both states had found their voice, as demanded by the people.

Peter John pointed out that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was never fully implemented in the first place, and its spirit had never come to full fruition. Many of the concerns that were voiced at the time by those who negotiated the agreement had become a reality, including economic disparity, diversion of oil and other revenues, lack of development and economic opportunities, a civil service dominated by West Malaysians, an education system biased towards West Malaysian history and culture, and a failure to respect and preserve the unique society and culture of the Borneo States.

“The individualities of Sabah and Sarawak must be preserved if Malaysia is ever to be successful,” he said.

“The past cannot be undone and so in some cases, extra measures not anticipated in the agreement will need to be put in place to make up for some of the neglect, for example in education, healthcare and cultural appreciation.”

Saying Malaysia had seen a great leap forward on May 9 (14th general election), Peter John hoped the Pakatan Harapan-led government would deliver on its promise to accord greater recognition of Sabah and Sarawak, end marginalisation as well as provide for a cleaner and more responsive government. — DayakDaily